HARRISON, N.J. — Even though the Women's World Cup is still 15 months away, every game the U.S. national team plays is a mini-referendum on the team's readiness.
That was especially true in Sunday's SheBelieves Cup game against France, a team that thrashed the United States 3-0 in this tournament last year.
Both teams have changed since then, in ways big and small. But the French are still a world power, and the 1-1 tie before 25,706 fans at Red Bull Arena was a good test.
It was a particularly good test of the U.S.' central attacking midfield depth chart. Lindsey Horan started in the role Sunday, but played only the first half; Carli Lloyd entered in the 73rd minute.
In between, the job was held by Savannah McCaskill, a 21-year-old University of South Carolina product who replaced Horan at halftime. She will make her pro debut with the National Women's Soccer League's Sky Blue FC later this month, and will be teammates with Lloyd.
The player who's potentially the best fit wasn't even in the building. Rose Lavelle is not on the tournament roster because of a long-standing hamstring injury.
It all added up to an afternoon of good looks and half-chances, but relatively few great scoring opportunities — and as such, few answers.
"There were spurts when there was some really good play through our midfield, and then at times it sputtered," U.S. coach Jill Ellis said. "I wanted to give Savannah some time today and see how she did against this team. … We've got to have everybody available, and then make those choices."
Both goals came in the first half. Mallory Pugh opened the scoring in the 35th minute by pouncing on a loose ball in a traffic jam after a free kick.
France star Eugénie Le Sommer tied the game just three minutes later with a beautiful goal, shaking off U.S. centerback Abby Dahlkemper and rounding goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher to finish in an open net.
The score could easily have been 2-1 or 3-1 in the U.S.' favor if not for two offside calls that TV replays showed were incorrect. France had the better of the play in the second half, but Naeher made a few big saves to preserve the result.